Cinnamon rolls were one of the first yeasted dough recipes I mastered after receiving my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer as a Christmas gift in high school. I made them so many times that I committed the recipe to memory! No joke. For this recipe, I made a few simple tweaks to that recipe to veganize it and make the buns a bit more festive for the season.
Traditional cinnamon bun doughs usually call for scalded milk, butter and eggs to lend richness. Fortunately, you can make some vegan-friendly substitutions and your loved ones will be none the wiser once they try these! Pumpkin puree adds flavor and acts as a binder in place of eggs. I’ve found the dough behaves best when using warm water as the liquid, but you may also feel free to use your favorite plant milk.
I’d highly recommend buying some bread flour for this recipe (and for most homemade bread recipes). It has higher gluten content than all-purpose flour, which will provide more structure to your dough and allow it to rise better. You can find it at most grocery stores. If you’re using regular AP flour, you may need to add extra to get your dough to a workable consistency.
In college, I made massive trays of these all the time to share with my housemates warm out of the oven. Nowadays, I don’t have 50 roomies and I can’t be trusted with a full batch of these in my home, so usually I will freeze the uncooked buns before the second proofing. I separate them with parchment paper so that I can defrost and bake them one at a time when a craving strikes. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight, or for several hours on the counter at room temp, and bake as directed (adding a minute or so to the cook time if the dough is still cold).
Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns
For the dough
- 1 0.25 oz packet active dry yeast (or 2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 6 tablespoons vegan butter softened
For the caramel
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raw pecans chopped
For the filling
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter softened
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir a teaspoon of sugar into warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and allow to proof for 10 minutes until foamy.
- Combine bread flour, sugar, salt, and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
- Add 1 cup pumpkin puree and 6 tablespoons softened vegan butter to the water and yeast and combine.
- Add dry ingredient mixture to the stand mixer in thirds, mixing well after each addition. Continue mixing at a medium speed until dough clings to paddle and forms a ball.
- Switch to dough hook attachment and knead dough at a medium speed for 6-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Dough should still be slightly tacky to the touch, but it should pull away from sides of mixing bowl.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour, until roughly doubled in size.
- Melt 1/2 cup vegan butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour mixture into a lightly-greased 9×13″ pan (or divide between two 9″ round cake pans). Sprinkle chopped pecans over mixture.
- Punch dough down. Transfer to a lightly-floured surface and fold into a rectangular shape to help it roll out more evenly. Roll dough into a large rectangle, roughly 15×20″.
- Combine reserved 2 tablespoons butter and pumpkin puree and spread on dough almost to edges. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
- Roll dough into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Slice into 12 buns. Transfer to baking pan over caramel-nut mixture.
- Cover and allow to rise for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 400ºF during the last 10 minutes of rise time.
- Bake buns for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.
- Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before carefully inverting buns onto serving platter.